Gary Ross won't be directing The Hunger Games' sequel Catching Fire, according to various online reports. The Pleasantville and Seabiscuit director wanted more money than Lionsgate was offering him, though some sources claim that Ross wasn't too keen on revisiting Katniss Everdeen and pals.
Now, would a more generous offer have sparked his interest in spending extra time with Katniss? And was the "low" offer a means for Lionsgate to get rid of Ross?
Either way, some have already begun suggesting various – quite disparate – names to replace Ross. Among those are Alfonso Cuarón, who directed Harry Potter and the Prince of Azkaban in 2004, and Debra Granik, who directed The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence in the Oscar-nominated Winter's Bone. Considering that the Hunger Games movies focus on Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss, surely Granik won't be the only woman mentioned as a welcome Ross replacement. (Kathryn Bigelow's name must have popped up somewhere.)
If a female filmmaker were to be hired, that would be a first for a major Hollywood franchise. After all, when Catherine Hardwicke directed Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in Twilight, that was before Twilight became a phenomenon. The first film in that franchise was a relatively low-budget production that became a sleeper megahit.
Now, if Lionsgate does indeed want a female director to helm Catching Fire, our suggestions would be Catherine Breillat, who would bring out the aesthetic qualities of the source material while adding extra dimensions to the story's romantic entanglements. Else, Margarethe von Trotta, who would emphasize the sociopolitical aspects of Collins' dystopian tale, thus grounding the characters in a relatable context.
Gary Ross co-wrote The Hunger Games' screenplay with author Suzanne Collins and Breach / State of Play / Captain Phillips screenwriter Billy Ray. In addition to Jennifer Lawrence, the film features The Expendables 2 / AWOL / The Last Song's Liam Hemsworth, Red Dawn / Carmel / The Kids Are All Right's Josh Hutcherson, Movie 43 / What to Expect When You're Expecting / People Like Us' Elizabeth Banks, and Seven Psychopaths / Zombieland's Woody Harrelson.
Also in the cast: Margin Call / Easy A / The Lovely Bones' Stanley Tucci, JFK / Eye of the Needle / Max Dugan Returns' Donald Sutherland, American Beauty / Loveless / The Time Being's Wes Bentley, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising / Race to Witch Mountain's Alexander Ludwig, Salvation Boulevard / The Healer's Isabelle Fuhrman, Sitting Babies / Running Wild's Jack Quaid, and Snow White and the Huntsman / Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / The Girl's Toby Jones.
Catching Fire is scheduled to come out on Nov. 22, 2013.
Gary Ross / The Hunger Games photo: Murray Close / Lionsgate.